The Font-Bot Project is something I started for a couple of reasons. The first reason was I wanted to design a site with new HTML 5 markup and CSS3 properties. The second was, as a designer turned full time Front-End-Engineer, I needed a creative outlet.
I didn’t really just want to markup a site for a fake company or a new design portfolio. I wanted to create something that people would enjoy, and visit and maybe even use. As the web is going through somewhat of a type renaissance with the adoption of @font-face, I have become increasingly interested in learning more about typography and how I could use it in my pages. I am also very interested in robots. I have no idea when this started but probably around the time of Transformers and Robotech.
This is where the idea was born – when I was in art school I remembered doing exercises where we would have to design things using only type. So I decided to make the world my classroom and ask my students to create robots out of type.
But what good are dangerous looking robots if they are just standing there?
I figured that since I couldn’t actually make the robots fight that a voting system with a damage bar would bars would be a great addition. I built the site on WordPress and used one of the many polling plug-ins out there to create the damage system. I also added the comments section so people could talk about the robots they liked and why, or so they could just talk trash about the one they didn’t vote for.
For me Font-Bot is just an ever evolving personal project. I am constantly making small tweaks to it with the feedback I have received from other designers in the community as well as the participants.
It has given me a lot more than I ever thought it would. I get great emails from people who have visited the site and enjoy it. I just received one from a college student in Tennessee who said his entire typography class is making font-bots as a project. I have also been lucky enough to receive a pretty steady stream of submissions. I even get submissions from non-designers, which is great. Just recently I received a submission from a writer. It has also been linked to in several online publications, most notably the recent mention in Smashing Magazine.
I realized the importance of personal projects through this experience. The site was not only fun to build, but also a lesson in design and development for me. It was one of my first experiments with the Modular Scale by Tim Brown. (You can also read more about the scale and Tim Brown here) It was also the first site I ever built using HTML 5 markup, and it built completely on WordPress. Although it’s not the first site I have built on WordPress, each one ends up teaching me valuable lessons.
I encourage other designers to create something for themselves and give it to the world. Doing so keeps your skills sharp and keeps you on top of your craft.